August 07, 2018 13:22
The 25th ASEAN Regional Forum in a closing chairman's statement on Aug. 4 urged North Korea to abide by its promise of "complete denuclearization."
The attending foreign ministers from 27 countries urged North Korea "to fulfill its stated commitment to complete denuclearization and its pledge to refrain from further nuclear and missile tests."
The formula leaves out the crucial element of verification, which was also left out of a statement signed by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their summit in June.
Last year's forum still used the formula "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement" of the North's nuclear program, which the U.S. taunted until days before the summit but now seems to have abandoned.
"The Ministers reiterated their commitment to the full implementation of all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and international efforts to bring about the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which will contribute to peace and stability in the region," the statement adds.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha reportedly took the lead in changing the formula in the statement. She told reporters, "We're in favor of 'complete denuclearization' as expressed in the joint declaration in April and the U.S.-North Korea statement in June."
After the statement was issued, the Foreign Ministry here said the ARF "tried to use a balanced expression."
North Korea has furiously objected to demand to let inspectors look at all its nuclear facilities, and the U.S. has backed down without much resistance to keep talks alive. It has now scrambled for yet another formula, "final, fully verified denuclearization" in an effort to continue negotiations with Pyongyang.
"The wording in the ARF statement can change to suit the situation each year," said Yun Duk-min, a former chief of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy. "The problem is that there's no agreement on a clear definition of the concept of 'complete denuclearization' between Seoul and Washington on one side and the North on the other."
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